College student Joe Talbert has the modest goal of completing a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, and soon nothing in Joe's life is ever the same. Carl is a dying Vietnam veteran-and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder.
As Joe writes about Carl's life, especially Carl's valor in Vietnam, he cannot reconcile the heroism of the soldier with the despicable acts of the convict. Aided by his skeptical neighbor, Lila, Joe throws himself into uncovering the truth. Thread by thread, he begins to unravel the tapestry of Carl's conviction. But as he and Lila dig deeper into the circumstances of the crime, the stakes grow higher. Will Joe discover the truth before it's too late to escape the fallout?
©2014 Allen Eskens (P)2015 Tantor
"More complications ensue, until the novel's satisfying resolution." (Publishers Weekly Starred Review)
Although parts of the plot were slightly improbable and the ending was a neatly tied bow, I was mostly on the edge of my seat waiting to hear what would happen next in this story.
The narration by Zach Villa was excellent - a well modulated voice, great story telling ability and none of the characterisations grated.
I've listened to many audiobooks and this is the first one I just couldn't put down.
Lovely characters, well detailed. Loved the narrator and his own life story entwined in the suspense filled discovery of a tragic crime he walks into exposing.
For a bargain book, this was pretty good. I usually stick with cozy mysteries because I don't like the violence in normal ones, and this one does get pretty graphic. But the mystery was good, kept me listening (on 1.5 speed). I bought the book because it takes place in Minnesota, where I grew up, and where else am I going to read, "The tufts of hair stood out of my head in all directions, like I'd been cowlicked by a drunken heifer" but in a book taking place in the midwest?
The main character, Joe, was likable from the beginning, he just had this authentic feel to him, and when I found out his backstory, I liked him even more. The same is true with the girl who lived next door to him. They both had some baggage, but neither one of them let it get them down much, or if they did, admitted to themselves they were doing it and accepted that. That was kind of refreshing.
The relationship between Joe and his brother was really sweet and added a layer to the story that made it all that much more worth listening to.
The narrator was really good, perfect choice for the voice of Joe.
"Character driven mystery"
Each are good, but hearing the story was wonderful because it was in the first person and offered an emotional glimpse into the complex lives of the characters.
The ending, of course, but also Joe's the relationship with his brother. Touching and unique.
He provided a real connection to the character, and offered enough diversity of voice that it was clear and easy to get emotionally entrenched in the story. Good job.
Action and mystery based, but very emotional with regard to the characters. It was more a smile often and tears of sentiment.
Wonderfully crafted and written, with characters I want to see again! Good resolutions, but not trite at all. I'm recommending it to everyone!
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens is a great example of a novel enhanced by audible narration. The book is more than it would have been without Zach Villa, who is the voice of the main character, Joe. So impressive.
This is the story of Joe and his younger autistic brother who grew up with a worthless mother. The alcoholic mother becomes a ball and chain for Joe as he enters his adult life. Joe survives, though not without scars.
Joe's life is enhanced by meeting a convicted felon who is dying, and who agrees to tell Joe the the events surrounding his incarceration. A story he has never told before.
The Life We Bury is beautifully written, though predictable as far as a mystery goes. The conclusion, though no surprise, is exactly what the reader hopes it will be.
This book covers a lot of ground including alcoholism, autism, rape, murder, prison, cancer, hospice, Vietnam, PTSD, and young love. Suffice it to say I that I was impressed the author managed to fit so much into 8.5 hours of listening time. It's a coming of age story about college student Joe who, while coming to terms with serious family responsibilities, must also undertake what initially seems like a simple college assignment but soon opens a can of worms with enormous implications for a man dying of cancer. Wrong vs. right, death vs. life, guilt vs. innocence, the truth vs. deceit and misinformation, conviction vs. exoneration are some of the many themes that are skillfully interwoven throughout the story. Though much of the material was dark and heavy, the narrative was a also refreshingly light and funny at times.
The narrator did a really great job - his voice was perfect for the main character and he also seemed to nail the voices of the other characters.
It was hard to stop listening to and I look forward to more from both the author and narrator!
"Figured it out but couldn't quit listening"
This was a very well written and captivating story. I found it just reading other reviews and was quite pleased with the choice. The performance of the book was great also. I have to admit that I had the mystery figured out early in the book but it didn't make me want want to stop listening. I can't wait for this authors next piece
"Not Your Average Thriller"
This fast paced thriller was good because it was multidimensional with characters that were fully developed and explored through the story. So often, thrillers are peopled by cookie cutter characters and purposefully vague storytelling. Eskens does a good job telling a story that holds the interest and for the most part is believable. There were just a few bits that stretched my suspension of disbelief--but not enough to cause me to stop listening.
To me, the narration was good. The writing engaging. There was moderate amount of discussion and action involving violence and disturbing themes. Recommended if you like cold case style crime solving done by nonprofessional "detectives"/researchers. In the end, an attention grabbing page turner.
"Good, easy read"
This book had a little bit of romance,, little bit of a twist, good plot and the author was never confusing. Generally a good read, except two dark sub-plots that distrubed me as a reader. It had to be in the story, but was just a little darker than I like to be exposed to. A little foul language which might offend some people.
"A very enjoyable first effort by both"
Suspense; excellent characters
The blend of author and narrator is just right. I had never heard of either of these guys before, and they are a good team. The plot is complicated. It involves Carl, an old man who has spent thirty years in prison for raping and killing a fourteen-year-old girl; Joe, a college student who writes a school assignment about Carl; Lila, who lives across the hall from Joe and becomes his partner in what becomes an extremely well-written suspense novel. There are lots of twists and turns, and a large cast of characters in Minnesota, many of them law enforcement officers who combine efforts to hunt down the ... I won't spoil the ending for you, but suffice it to say that once you are involved, you are caught up in the story and with the people.
I enjoyed the process of Joe and Lila falling in love while they managed to solve the 30-year-old murder under a chilling deadline: Carl is dying of cancer in a nursing home, having been given a compassionate parole very near his death.
I am really not good at this sort of thing, but if you insist...The pressure of time, a very old crime with a very new solution.
I hope that these two gentlemen continue working together. As I said above, they are a good team, and that is not an easy thing to pull off when you are new to the process of writing and producing an audiobook. There are lots of not-so-good ones. This one is very good.
"Excellent book! Loved it!"
Listened to the audio version on a 2 day road trip which made the drive extremely enjoyable! We drove around for 15 minutes after we reached our destination to finish! Great characterization and plot. Would highly recommend this to any adult reader (some graphic language).
"Is this Nancy Drew Meets a Hardy Boy?"
Don't get me wrong, I rather liked this book. The narration was superb, lulling me to staying with this one until I finished it in just over two days. However, there were moments when I thought I was listening to an old Nancy Drew meets a Hardy Boy mystery. It was just a little simplistic, unrealistic, predictable to my way of thinking. It is an easy listen, has a few twists and turns as mysteries go, and has a somewhat pleasant ending. Yes, I mostly liked it, but a little more mystery to it all would have been welcome.
"A most enjoyable story."
The actual progression of the story with its twists and turns and changes in pace.
Narration was well-suited and warm; the tone and emphasis just right.
As above: twists and turns.
Characters complementary: wrong to single-out one character.
On the look out for other works by the same writer and narrator.
"The life we bury -review"
This book is an excellent read, captivating the reader from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the narrator however, his woman's voice was a little irritating. I would recommend this to someone who enjoys suspense and action novels with an interesting & compelling narrative.
Well written and thought provoking with fully-fleshed out believable characters. An exciting story that gathers momentum relentlessly. Couldn't stop listening.
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